June 13, 2007

A Mashup Advertising Engine to help monetize map mashups - monetize your map and maximize the use of screen real estate

Google has laid the foundation for map mashup development -- more tools, more exposure... etc... Now there's a solution (Beta) to help put more cash in the pockets of developers and map publishers. Those looking to advertise on mashups will find a really cool service that will get their ads served in a user-friendly, based on the geographic location being viewed by the map user.

Recall A Couple of Weeks Back

At Where2.0 and the recent Google Developer Conference Google announced a number of enhancements to their mapping solutions and APIs. Of particular interest was a focus on bringing more attention to mashups and making mashups more widely available to the Google search user base. Case in point... the google mashup editor, mapplets and google gadgets. Google VP Engineering, Jeff Huber noted at Developer Day that Developers are now creating apps in a 10th of the time that was required back in the day! Developers have access to more APIs, simple to use developer tools and web publishing environments. Of interest... the new model of application development includes open source, standards, mashups, and advertising.

Bringing more traffic to your mashup

Mashup Editor -- with this tool creating mashups with Google couldn't be easier. In a few lines of code and one click of a button you can publish your mashups for the world to see. Simply put, more mashups, simple publishing and sharing. Think of it as an online editor for creating your mashup with just a few lines of XML code. Test, deploy, and launch is what people want to do (experimental at this time).

Gadgets -- Recall commscore ranks google’s network as the largest on the web – half a billion users each month! So now we have the google gadgets API… popular, an open model, more than 100k gadgets created to date. Using the gadget page creator users can now put gadgets within their blogger weblog - take a gadget and embed it into your website you see where this is coming from now? Developers who create and author gadgets are inviting more traffic to their mashups. The formula: mashups + gadgets = $. With Gadgets your mashup is now widely available to more users

Mapplets - perhaps most significant to map-mashup developers is the launch of Google Mapplets... think mashups of mashups. Combining the gadgets API with the maps API Google is now enabling exploration and discovery of your content. Imagine combining your mapplets.. like hotel and weather data then toss in a crime data mashup. Enabling mashups of mashups. Once again, this is a great solution designed to bring more traffic and users to your mashup.

But where's the money?

A common question people ask is where is the money in mashups? Well, no doubt many developers are now farming out their services and earning a good living doing so... kudos! Some are also making money by authoring weblogs and writing books. But what about the revenues generated from all those people using your clever mashup map? Obviously many are embedding Google adsense ads within their web pages, however, this currently falls short of maximizing revenues based on traffic and usage. If you've ever panned and zoomed around a mashup map you've likely noticed those familiar google ads being served up on the page. One big problem though... as users zoom and move around the map advertisements don't update. Also, the ads are very often not relevant to the geographic area on the map or the topic of the web page.

A Solution... $$
Now that Google is offering a number of clever ways to increase the number of users of your mashup how to increase revenues for publishers? Lat49 is coming out with a very cool solution for mashup developers and those looking to earn some revenues from their websites and mashups. The Lat49 advertising engine will enable users to easily incorporate the engine's functionality into a mashup (regardless of which API being used - Google maps, Microsoft Live Search, Yahoo! maps, etc...) Developers will have a little creative licensing over where and how the ads appear.. the ads (which can be text, image or both) can positioned in a user-friendly location on the map. Advertisers purchase their ads by geography (more on that later) with ads being served at either local, neighborhood, urban, or a branded level. The ad displayed to a user will depend on the map zoom-level and map center. As a user pans around or zooms in and out the ad(s) will update automatically... kaching $$$! Publishers need only embed a couple of lines of javascript in their app then customize the code accordingly. Revenues will be shared and get this... will be based on the number of ads being served (not simply on click-throughs). Additional revenues will be possible based on ad performance but is apparently not necessary to rake in some green. Obviously with ads updating regularly and changing with the user's map position performance will no doubt be very good compared to the current ad solutions available.

Typical banner ads that you currently would see on a website using a mashup - banner ads don't update or change when the position on the AJAX map changes. Another common practice would be to position Google adwords to surround the map. Map see is from Rentslicer.com

Using the Lat49 solution an ad (text or graphic) can be positioned on the map so it doesn't use up any valuable real estate. Various sizes can be displayed and the ad will change as the map center moves - notice the Lat49 graphic positioned where an ad would be seen.

Lat49 is currently in Beta and developers are encouraged to contact the company to help with the initial testing. More on this can be found at http://www.lat49.com

Thanks to Tiffany and Chloe for giving me a first look at this very cool solution. I'll be really curious to see which mashups take the initiative to jump on this one first!

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